Saturday, March 29, 2008

On Slate's John Dickerson and a story's lean

A couple of recent columns by John Dickerson on got me thinking - is Dickerson a shill for Hill? I think highly of Dickerson's writing, and usually he has been fair and balanced (for real, unlike Fox!)

I think highly of Slate's John Dickerson's writing, and usually he has been fair and balanced (for real, unlike Fox!) However, a couple of recent columns by Dickerson got me thinking - is Dickerson a shill for Hill?

Now think about the two paragraphs above - both essentially the same, yet perhaps conveying a different impression to the reader of what I now feel about John Dickerson's writing. Wikipedia suggests that a story's most important part is the lede or start. However, there is another rule I learned in school - I think, or I could have read it some place and it has stuck in my mind ever since. That is, how a story ends also says which way the writer's personal opinion swings.

An example is that research presents both advantages and disadvantages of a chosen technique. If the writer is in a conciliatory mood, then the article ends on a positive note; if not, and the disadvantage is critical in the writer's opinion, the opposite occurs. [RS - This is not how my writings should be read! Wink, wink, nudge, nudge!]

I have been reading Dickerson's stories about the Democratic Presidential primary campaign with the usual (considerable!) interest. Some recent columns left me wondering if Dickerson has a dog in this race.

The first was on Senator Obama's race speech. Dickerson analyzes the speech, praises it as an effective State of the Union address delivered even though Senator Obama's just a candidate for President. He also notes that Senator Obama wrote the speech in the midst of a "a sleep-stealing, gut-punching presidential campaign, which is like writing the speech while riding backward on a flaming unicycle."
At the end of the third paragraph, however, Dickerson starts faulting the speech. Some examples: "But Obama's courage didn't extend to directly taking on the words that have caused such controversy.... He didn't need to refer to Geraldine Ferraro twice. [...-...] a cheap attempt to loop Wright and Ferraro with the same lasso." Dickerson says that it was Senator Obama's staffers that jumped on "a Drudge Report item about a supposed Clinton staffer supposedly passing around a picture of Obama" [emphasis mine] and "who made the most of Geraldine Ferraro's remarks." And yet, Senator Obama blithely listed "pouncing "on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card"" as political bad behavior, without calling out his own campaign. Senator Obama should have taken the opportunity to talk about his own shortcomings, and that was a failing of the speech, says Dickerson.

Another column is on an alleged quid pro quo for Governor Richardson in return for his endorsement of Senator Obama. Apparently, James Carville's "Judas" comment about Governor Richardson's actions on Good Friday is a common feeling of Clinton supporters. [RS - Governor Richardson's prominence in national politics is apparently owed to President Clinton conferring upon him a Secretaryship and an Ambassadorship, and so Governor Richardson should have bowed to Senator Clinton, or so the story goes.] Some Clinton supporters say the Governor had signaled his eventual support to Senator Clinton; so this reneging on his word must have been due to a bribe!
Dickerson says:
"Those who know him say that as a politician who has negotiated with some of the world's trickiest foreign leaders, [Governor Richardson] knows how to let people "believe what they want to believe," as one put it. Both Obama's and Richardson's spokesmen offer ironclad denials that Obama offered Richardson anything specifically or implicitly in the way of a quid pro quo, and there is no actual evidence of any kind of deal." [emphasis mine]
Yet, despite the "ironcald denials" and "lack of evidence," Dickerson ends with this tantalizing tidbit:
"But there is one other little piece of evidence that suggests Richardson must have wrested some promise in return for his support. It's contained in the "Richardson Rules," his pointers for how to negotiate: "Don't concede absolutely everything the other side is requesting. Get something in return, even if it's minor."" [emphasis mine]

In a third column, Dickerson suggests that President Clinton was not implying Senator Obama was unpatriotic when President Clinton talked about preferring a contest between two candidates for President who are both patriotic and can focus the campaign on the issues, without other issues [RS - like racism? Rev. Wright?] distracting the voters. Quoting Senator Obama's book The Audacity of Hope, Dickerson also says "If I'm inclined to think the worst of Hillary Clinton and her husband, it's the senator [Obama] who reminds me to recognize alternative interpretations."
Since some Obama supporters are interpreting President Clinton's statement otherwise, Dickerson says, this suggests Senator Obama fails to see the alternative explanation, and is possibly incapable of seeing anything other than evil coming out of the Clinton camp - which calls into question Senator Obama's judgment. Dickerson ends this piece with:
"...if we're not supposed to take all of Obama's speeches seriously, we're stuck embracing the Clinton claim that he offers "just words" and doesn't mean what he says. To believe in the full measure of Obama's words then is, perhaps, to be too hopeful."

While the third piece may not suggest that Dickerson is taking sides, I posit that by calling Senator Obama's judgment into question based on the quotes of his supporters - and appropriating said quotes to reflect Senator Obama's own opinions - Dickerson apparently is.

Of course, there have been other columns like when Dickerson called the Clinton campaign's case to the superdelegates as "hokum" and also said Governor Richardson's endorsement may have been a repayment of Senator Obama's kindness during one of the Democratic debates. Maybe Dickerson just likes poking holes in the front-runner's story, or is making up for positive bias the main-stream media (perhaps including Dickerson) has apparently shown toward Senator Obama... As the Clinton campaign would have us believe.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The way ahead for Senator Clinton

Adam Nagourney at the NYT suggests the only way possible for Senator Clinton to clinch the Democratic nomination - pound Senator Obama in Pennsylvania and Indiana, get a bunch of wins down the stretch, and hope for a huge disaster to befall Senator Obama so that he nosedives in general election polls against Senator McCain. All this, to give superdelegates pause before going with the winner of the delegate race and popular vote.

David Brooks says the chances of that happening are just 5% now. And for the sake of that 5%, Senator Clinton is going to continue with a campaign that will see constant sniping by campaign aides and surrogates on both sides, innuendo, race- and gender-baiting. The end as Brooks sees it, is that either Senator Clinton steps aside (probably after the May 6 primary in North Carolina) in a human display of self-sacrifice that goes against her entire political career, or that she goes down, "taking down as many allies as necessary."

I hope Senator Clinton reads the Brooks piece, though it seems (like a certain sitting President) Senator Clinton does not read the news. Given the secrecy over her personal finances, her duplicity over NAFTA, Bosnia - gate, her continued pursuit of a campaign strategy that increasingly resembles the Tonya Harding option, and the no-news reading tidbit - how is Senator Clinton different from Bush-43?

And in that vein, is she so desperate to become President that she will critically cripple Senator Obama and allow Senator McCain to win this November, give us another Bush-43 term, allowing Senator Clinton to run in 2012? After all, Senator Clinton has already implied that Senator McCain is better compared to Senator Obama...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Senator Clinton's trip to Bosnia

The Jed Report has made a great trailer for a movie based on Senator Clinton's real-life adventures in Bosnia. (via's Trailhead) Here it is - enjoy!

A (real!) published author

On a more personal note - even though I have published a few papers in academic journals, I got a real kick out of seeing this. I feel like I have finally arrived!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The race speech: convenient omissions?

Charles Krauthammer at WaPo says Senator Obama's speech on race was a "brilliant fraud" in that it did not answer the question: why did Senator Obama not leave Trinity United Church given Rev. Wright's "vitriolic divisiveness"? Andres Martinez, also at WaPo, says "the entire exercise still ended up feeling a bit evasive."

However, in my opinion, both Krauthammer and Martinez completely missed the point of the speech. Rev. Wright may have said some inexcusable things; but he also has done a world of good to many on Chicago's south side. As Senator Obama said, if those YouTube snippets were all he knew of the Rev, he would have reacted in much the same way.

Senator Obama continues: "But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS...." (link)

Further, the mention of Senator Obama's grandmother was not to "throw her under the bus," as so many anti-Obamans have said, but to point out that near and dear ones, including our elders who have tremendous influence over us - like, presumably, a pastor - also harbor racial sentiments that can make us cringe, or for some folks, shape their opinions accordingly. Nobody is perfect; as the Christian sentiment goes, renounce the sin, but embrace the sinner.

The key is, Rev. Wright, Geraldine Ferraro, Robin Morgan, and our grandparents/parents are all products of their times, and whether they spew invective in public or mutter in private in our presence, the onus is upon us to objectively realize the reasons for their views, and not get influenced by their skewed perspective.
[The above paragraph was also partly influenced by Dahlia Lithwick.]

As for the supposed anti-American sentiments of the Rev. Wright? If you go along that route, even Dr Martin Luther King, Jr would be cast as anti-American. And I might add, Presidential candidate and Congressman Ron Paul had pretty much the same sentiments as Rev. Wright over 9/11 - "blowback." (link to video)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Senator Obama's speech on race

Senator Obama gave a speech on race in Philadelphia today. A very good speech, as usual - but made all the more important by the very topic he addressed. The complete transcript is available here. In video form:

Senator Obama mentions that his family spans 3 continents and relations of "every race and every hue." He even has a half-brother in China!

Today, even more than ever, I really hope Senator Obama becomes the next President of the United States of America, the next leader of the free world. We - the people of this world - really need someone with Senator Obama's vision, intelligence, and perspective.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The big-state theory, Speaker Pelosi may lean Obama, and Senator Clinton's new firewall

The Numbers Guy at WSJ examines the "big state" theory that the Clinton campaign pushes as the reason for the superdelegates to back Senator Clinton. The conclusion seems to be that a winning Presidential candidate need not win the biggest states to win the election (see Bush, George W.); but predicting general election performance based on performance in the primaries is an iffy proposition at best. This last part is also the conclusion of Jeff Greenfield over at Slate.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to give a hint that she favors Senator Obama, though what she actually said on ABC's "This Week" is that the candidate with the most pledged delegates should be the nominee - even if the other candidate wins the popular vote. The NY Observer also points out a good reason to back Senator Obama - his long coat-tails in conservative states like (yes!) Kansas, which will help down-ticket Democrats. For Speaker Pelosi, that offers a better chance of strengthening the Democratic majority in Congress. In addition, apparently Speaker Pelosi opposed the Iraq invasion from the start - like Senator Obama, and unlike Senator Clinton. Plenty of good reasons for Speaker Pelosi to back Senator Obama, even if officially she's neutral in the Democratic race.

Finally, Senator Clinton's new firewall appears to be made of Republicans, including Pat Buchanan and Rush Limbaugh. Pat Buchanan and others back Senator Clinton because of her apparent appeal to sensible, Reagan "working class" Democrats, as compared to the "loony left" liberals who back Senator Obama... picking the lesser of two evils?
Rush Limbaugh called for Republicans in Texas and Ohio to "pimp [themselves] for a day" and vote for Senator Clinton, to prolong the Democratic primary race. This appears to be taking effect since of late, Senator Clinton has split the Republican and Independent vote with Senator Obama. For example, in Wisconsin, Senator Obama won Republicans 72-28, and Independents 64-33. But in Ohio and Texas, the Republican/Independent votes were roughly evenly split. Susan Davis over at the WSJ also observes this Limbaugh effect.
Mark Blumenthal of, writing for the National Journal, says a benefit of exit polling is that it can reveal voter motivations. Taking the Mississippi race as an example, he suggests that the exit polls show Republicans voting for Senator Clinton might have been motivated to stop Senator Obama rather than any affection for Senator Clinton.
I am sure Senator Clinton's followers will be very happy with these new developments!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Free speech

Professor John Searle of UC-Berkeley was involved in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Here is a CNN interview.
Best quote, and embodiment of the fact that the FSM was not a left-wing movement:
"If you don't believe in free speech for Adolf Hitler you don't believe in free speech."

The Colbert Report on the 1972 and 2008 Democratic campaigns

Here's a great interview with Senator George McGovern, the Democratic Presidential candidate in 1972:

And here's Colbert comparing the 1972 and 2008 Democratic Presidential campaigns:

Stephen Colbert's lovely take on the "big states" argument

Friday, March 14, 2008

[UPDATED 3/17 PM] Racism and the Democratic campaign: Rev. Wright and Ms Ferraro

A firestorm has erupted over (a) Geraldine Ferraro's comment that Senator Obama would not have been so successful in the Democratic race if he were not a Black man; and (b) the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's fiery sermons (link, link) that folks like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity (video) and Clinton supporters on various blogs (e.g. blog on TNR) find appallingly racist and hateful. Ms Ferraro has finally left the Clinton campaign (after a few days and after crying reverse-racism - "they're attacking me because I'm white") The Rev. Wright (who recently retired as Pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ) has also left the Obama campaign.

First, here is Senator Obama denouncing the specific comments made by the Rev. Wright that US foreign policy was responsible for the 9/11 attack. In video form:

A Clinton supporter, long-time donor and Washington caucus state delegate is disgusted with the Clinton campaign and is leaving Senator Clinton's side.

A Chicago Tribune editorial says both Ms Ferraro and the Rev. Wright were merely exercising their First Amendment rights. The candidates themselves are not to blame, but the editorial says the candidates' reactions are more important, to see how they would deal with adverse situations. "No-Drama Obama has been playing the Ferraro comment with appropriate cool.... Clinton, by contrast, has been clumsier."

Over at WaPo, Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, President of the Chicago Theological Seminary, says Ms Ferraro is wrong, calling the controversial remarks the (Catholic-defined) human sin of "willful ignorance." She goes on to compare the American experience with slavery against the German response to the Holocaust; the Germans are trying to force themselves to face their horrifying past, while Americans try to deny racism is still prevalent, much of it directed against Blacks.

[UPDATE] Melinda Henneberger, over at The XX Factor on, says - about the Obama-Wright connection - we all have friends who are nutty. She goes on to mention the less-than-perfect pastors behind Senators McCain (televangelist John Hagee, anti-Catholic, and Rev. Rod Parsley, war-on-Islam) and Clinton (Rev. Billy Graham, antisemite). She also points out that since Senator Obama probably knew the Rev. Wright was controversial, he likely remained a member of the Church out of non-political reasons. [END UPDATE]

Finally, this is not the first time Ms Ferraro has accused a Black candidate as getting an easy ride/being successful because he was Black. The Rev. Jesse Jackson responded, "Millions of Americans have a point of view different from" Ferraro's." Perhaps most tellingly:
"We campaigned across the South . . . without a single catcall or boo. It was not until we got North to New York that we began to hear this from Koch, President Reagan and then Mrs. Ferraro . . . . Some people are making hysteria while I'm making history."

More openness from Senator Obama [UPDATED 3/14 AM]

I really like how open and candid Senator Obama is - he has released his tax returns, and has openly admitted drug use during his youth. And now, the Senator has released a list of the "earmarks" he asked for over the past three years. [UPDATE] His campaign website lists earmarks requested for FY 2006 and 2007. Apparently, Senator Obama has not released his requests from his time in the Illinois state legislature to the AP - but records are publicly available for 2 years.

After one of the most secretive administrations which has frustrated many Democrats, isn't it time Dems demanded honesty and forthrightness of all their Presidential candidates?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

So you are voting for Senator Clinton because she's "experienced"

Senator Clinton's supporters say that the Senator is "experienced," which is why they support her over Senator Obama.

Guess what? There were other fine, experienced candidates in the Democratic field, who dropped out after poor performances in Iowa and New Hampshire. Here are three (summarizing their accomplishments as described on Wikipedia):

Governor Bill Richardson - 14 years in the US Congress; 1997 US Ambassador to the UN; 1998-2000 US Secretary of Energy; Governor of New Mexico 2003-present, re-elected in 2006.
"In 2006, Forbes credited Richardson's reforms in naming Albuquerque, New Mexico the best city in the U.S. for business and careers. The Cato Institute, meanwhile, has consistently rated Richardson as one of the most fiscally responsible Democratic governors in the nation."

Senator Joe Biden - six-term US Senator from Delaware. Past Chairman of the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary, current and past Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Fifth-youngest US Senator when first elected in 1972 at age 30.

Senator Chris Dodd - 6 years in the US Congress; five-term US Senator from Connecticut. Authored the Family and Medical Leave Act. US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs etc.

Of the three, Governor Richardson seems the most experienced - Congressman, Governor, Ambassador, Secretary of Energy. I would even venture so far as to say - more experienced than Senator Clinton. And yet, he had to drop out after New Hampshire (and even that was a stretch.)

So you can proclaim all you want that you are voting for Senator Clinton because she's experienced and will be "ready on Day One." But that's a load of BS, because you rejected three people with more experience, including one with actual proven Chief Executive credentials and foreign policy expertise - unlike Senator Clinton.

NBC/WSJ national poll

Via - an extensive poll was released by NBC/WSJ (PDF). Outside of the horse-race numbers, the most interesting part is the candidate-characteristics. The following is a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the remaining Presidential candidates. I have summed the responses (from all voters) that gave a candidate a 4 or 5 score (on a scale of 1-5, 5 being best).

The only quality where Senator Clinton handily beats Senator Obama is "knowledgeable/ experienced". Clinton 50%, Obama 28%. But Senator McCain gets 66%!

Senators Clinton and Obama are about the same in "strong leadership" (50%, 46%) and "good commander-in-chief" (43%, 41%), but Senator McCain (61% on each metric) beats them both by 11-20%.

Senators McCain and Obama are about the same in "personal/moral standards" (56%, 57%)and "honest/straightforward" (52%, 53%), and handily beat Senator Clinton (standards 40%, honest 33%) by 16-20%.

Senator Obama easily beats Senators McCain and Clinton on the other metrics:
Quality Obama McCain Clinton
compassionate 59% 40% 44%
real change 50% 30% 38%
inspiring/exciting 56% 22% 33%
easygoing/likeable 69% 37% 30%

So my interpretation would be - Senator Clinton is similar to Senator McCain (McCain-lite!), but not as favorably-viewed. Senator Obama offers the strongest contrast to Senator McCain.... and you could easily have a beer with Senator Obama ;-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

UPDATED: On Senator Clinton's (foreign policy) "experience"

Good reads:
An AP report on Senator Clinton's claims of extensive foreign policy experience [I might have posted this earlier, but worth a second look!] Definitely no tea parties, but not really very important, either. UPDATE: Here is a Time review about Senator Clinton's experience with children's health care, the Northern Ireland peace process, and Macedonian refugees.

Here is the Obama camp's rebuttal to Senator Clinton's claims, appears partly based on the AP report.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Another post on Pollster...

Another of my posts on, continuing the discussion on the SurveyUSA 50-state poll:

The way opinions are presented here on this board, it appears as if irrespective of whether Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is the nominee, each is going to lose. Women will walk away if a man with 20+ years of varied life experience (successful and smart, not a legacy candidate like Bush-43) is nominated, while Obamacans, ABCs and some independents will vote McCain if Senator Clinton wins.

When Senator Kerry was elected the nominee in 2004, I was very unhappy - the Dems kept going for the purported "electable" candidate (I supported Senator Edwards then). That's a crock IMHO - the only popular (= re-elected) Democratic candidate elected in the last 40 years (or, to my knowledge, any full-term, re-elected President since FDR, barring Nixon's shenanigans) has been someone who could connect with *all* voters - men and women, Black and White and Brown. That can be said of only one Clinton.

Sorry, but that's the truth. Nothing against Senator Clinton's capabilities, but Governor Richardson, Senators Biden, Dodd and Gephardt, and a bunch of other very fine, experienced Democrats are just as capable, were directly involved longer in elected and/or accountable positions, and yet were soundly rejected by the electorate, in 2004 and 2008.

Here's a thought experiment - IF Senator Clinton was not running this year, who would the Democrats have voted for? Would we have seen this same "oh, a suave, smart, young, relatively untainted, dynamic person is winning over an experienced person, so we should not vote for him" dynamic?

You can keep thinking that voters are choosing Senator Clinton for her experience, but all those fine, experienced, multiply-elected Democrats who dropped out after getting less than 5% of the vote in Iowa and NH would beg to differ.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Reponses and notes...

The lively discussion on the SurveyUSA 50-state general election poll continues on the board. For some reason, I am having trouble posting my response, so might as well use my blog!
Ciccina [she said I don't consider Senator Clinton as an individual, just as an adjunct of her husband] - I consider the Clintons as equal partners, and pretty much (at this point!) inseparable from each other. My favoring Senator Obama over Senator Clinton has more to do with governing philosophy (Clinton favors attrition) and openness (Clinton's lack thereof). [link, link]

I found a few references directly or apparently attributing the "two for one" or "buy one, get one free" quotes to President/Governor Clinton. That's a March post "Two for the price of one."

Erik Hare [he said - what should Senator McCain do?]:
Apparently, Karl Rove thinks this extended Democratic fight is *bad* for Senator McCain, as it keeps the spotlight on the Democrats... At least, that's what I think I heard on the morning talk shows.

Uri [fails to see my point about Senator Clinton not being any Woman]:
I was trying to separate opposition to Senator Clinton (Obama) from opposition to Women (Blacks). There may be some latent sexism and racism where it matters - among voters, forget TV talking heads - but hopefully not so much.

As for Americans being upset over the Monica Lewinsky thing - maybe it's the purported puritanical history of America, the rise of the Christian Right in recent times, and the fact that President Clinton lied under oath about it. If he had just admitted to having sexual relations with "that woman," I think the repercussions would have been less (not zero.)

Believe me, if Senator Clinton's the nominee, all that baggage - pardons, Presidential library donations, everything - is coming out. If not directly by Senator McCain, then by the 527s.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Two for the price of one

The "two for the price of one" or "buy one, get one free" quotes below are either directly or apparently attributed to President Clinton; perhaps he was playing off the media's promotion of Senator Clinton as a co-President. Nonetheless, here he is, using the same quote himself:

PBS transcript - then-Governor Clinton saying "buy one, get one free"
Brittanica, "Attempt at health care reform", then-Governor Clinton saying "two for the price of one"
A BBC article on the current (2008) campaign
WaPo's Charles Krauthammer on the current (2008) campaign
LA Times opinion, Rosa Brooks on the current (2008) campaign
Business Day online
President Clinton on doing for Hillary what "she did for me... talk to her about everything."

An AP news report examining then-First Lady Hillary Clinton's contributions on foreign policy during the Clinton-42 era.

On a lighter note, I think I know why SNL keeps shilling for Senator Clinton - Amy Poehler does a fine job as Senator Clinton, while Fred Armisen-in-blackface is awful. Apparently, there aren't any good truly-Black comedians who can imitate Senator Obama. Or maybe the good Black comedians realize the mediocrity that is SNL these days, and stay away!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Electability in November 2008

SurveyUSA carried out a General Election match-up poll in each of the 50 states in the last week of February, pitting Senator McCain against Senators Clinton and Obama. Mark Blumenthal at went a step further, divvying up the states into strong/lean in either direction or toss-up, based on the margin in each state relative to estimated sampling error (SurveyUSA just assigned states to either candidate even if the candidate won just one more vote.) Really cool.

A lively discussion, of course, has ensued on (and probably other sites.)

Ciccina (of The Lurking Canary) put out a list of scenarios of how Senator Clinton could win:
"1) Florida - 27 EVs, OR
(2) Ohio + NM for 20 + 5 EVs, OR
(3) neither Ohio nor Florida, but a combo like CO (9) + VA (13) for 22 EVs, OR
(4) some constellation of CO (9), VA (13), NM (5), AR (6), NV (5), NH (4), IA (7) or some other state that I missed.
But certainly the simplest scenario is to win the Kerry states except NH, but pick up Florida, or win the Kerry states except NH, but pickup Ohio and any one small state."

Here's my take:

All Senator McCain has to do is pick Governor Charlie Crist as his running mate, and Florida goes Red.

In the "smaller" states, Senator Obama generally runs stronger - and note that Virginia going Blue is apparently not just dependent on African-American voters. The state-wide races - Governor/Senator - have either gone Blue or will, come November. Not sure Senator Clinton will carry Colorado (the Governor is a pro-life Democrat). She could (will) probably win Arkansas, I will give her that.

But essentially, the Democrats - with Senator Clinton as the nominee w/o Obama - are left scraping for the same states they won previously and fighting for Ohio and Arkansas, except the Republicans now have a much better, more moderate-appearing candidate. So the Dems are playing D in many "safe" states.

The point is quite clear - as of last week! - that Senator Obama will take the fight to many more states, and make the Republicans spend money in previously-safe states (freakin' Texas!) That can be important IF there is no public financing constraint (very contestable). Even with, the GOP will have to play D in their "safe" states.

As for the folks who would turn away on the premise of "no experience" - I think that can be solved - in as much as they consider it an issue, which I strongly contest - with *any* other competent person, not just Senator Clinton. Examples - Governor Sibelius (could even win Kansas!), Governor Napolitano (probably still lose Arizona), Senator Biden, Governor Richardson, Governor Kaine, Mayor Bloomberg. There is no shortage of fine, competent, experienced people in the Democratic Party, or outside.

I would even go so far as to posit Senator Obama is essential to Senator Clinton's shot at the Presidency; the other way, not so much.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The difference between the last "uniter" and Senator Obama

Cass Sunstein, formerly a colleague of Senator Obama from the University of Chicago Law School, writes about Senator Obama actively seeking out opposing/alternative viewpoints.

Says Sunstein: "In the 2000 campaign, Bush proclaimed himself a "uniter, not a divider", only to turn out to be the most divisive President in memory. Because of his own certainty, and his lack of curiosity about what others might think, Bush polarized the nation. Many of his most ambitious plans went nowhere as a result."
As for Senator Obama - "I believe that his humility, and his intense desire to seek out dissenting views, will prove crucial safeguards [against the possibility of yes-men]."

I have heard Clinton supporters argue that the last "uniter, not a divider" - Bush-43 - was bad, and so the next "uniter" - Senator Obama - will be just as bad. Folks who hold such an opinion forget that Senator Obama is much more intelligent than President Bush. Sunstein's personal experiences suggest that such fears, over Senator Obama turning out to be another Bush-43, are baseless.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It's time to take it to the mattresses!

It seems the lesson for Senator Obama out of the March 4 primaries is to sharpen his contrasts with Senator Clinton. He seems reluctant to go all-out negative like she did last week; after all, divisive attacks would be Old Politics.
So the blogosphere is apparently taking up the battle - see this (via Celtic Diva) and this. After all, there are many skeletons in the Clinton closet - the Marc Rich pardon, among others, possibly connected to the Clinton Library donors (see a conservative view here); post-Clinton-Presidency business deals; and the entire host of issues during the Clinton-42 Presidency. After all, if Senator Clinton takes credit for the successes of Clinton-42 and gains votes because she's married to Bill...

I don't see why not - after all, Senator Clinton has been attacking Senator Obama as unprepared and inexperienced to be President (see the Celtic Diva link above for a great video), since apparently these would be the charges the Republican campaign and their surrogates would be leveling (in addition to rumor-mongering and preying on intolerance/bigotry, which Clinton-supporters are also doing). So - in the best interests of the Democratic Party - a similar campaign should be carried out against Senator Clinton. After all, the MSM has been largely silent on the baggage Senator Clinton carries into the general election...

By the way, here is a great article on the gender victimization card played by Senator Clinton.

The Kashmir situation

I came upon an article by Michael Deibert on the Kashmir situation in India/Pakistan. Deibert tries to keep an even eye. However, his lack of specific examples of terrorist attacks in the late-80s, early-90s that perhaps lead to Indian Police excesses that he details suggests either a lack of information or some sympathy for Kashmiri militants. Also, in my recollection, the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was initially a terrorist organization; of late, it has turned away from its militant ways, and has fallen out of favor with Pakistan over the JKLF's support for an independent Kashmir.

I would not disagree with much of what Deibert writes; undoubtedly, there have been egregious abuses of power by Indian police authorities in Kashmir. One reason why there has been no plebiscite in Jammu & Kashmir is the presence of Pakistan-supported militants; also, Pakistani military occupies Pakistan-administered Kashmir while Indian military/police occupy Indian-administered Kashmir. Thus, a free and fair referendum on accession to either India or Pakistan, or even Kashmiri independence, seems unlikely.

A few years back while informally discussing politics at school, another Indian student objected strongly to my use of the terms "Indian-administered Kashmir" and "Pakistan-administered Kashmir." But that, in my opinion, reflects reality - after all, Kashmiris did not accede to Kashmir becoming a part of the Indian Union (the Hindu ruler of J&K signed an accession treaty with India); nor do they seem happy to join Pakistan. Then again, the Kashmir situation has colored Indo-Pak relations for over 50 years, and religious fanaticism has lately been on the rise in both Hindu-dominated India and Islamic Pakistan. Rational discussion can hardly be expected either side of the border, and strong emotions are the order of the day.

The morning after Junior-Super Tuesday!

The previous post might have sounded like a sore loser - but hey, those stories about prejudice against Senator Obama came out in the press before March 4, and I had written about one other, similar story earlier as well! [That's my fig-leaf, and I am sticking with it!]
Anyway, on to my adopted US-home state, Pennsylvania! Not forgetting the Wyoming caucuses and Mississippi primary in the next week, of course, both of which Senator Obama should win. In the mean time, I went through my earlier posts to see what I had written... and I guess one prediction came right (Senator Clinton would not blow-out Senator Obama in both Texas and Ohio), while another apparently has not (Senator Obama could win either Texas or Ohio by a whisker) - thus far, only 36% of the Texas caucus precincts have reported results.

Here are my previous posts:
Predicting the race will go to Pennsylvania, on Feb 8.
Senator Obama has to win one of the big three (TX, OH, PA).
On how things will stand on March 5 - posts on Feb 12 and Feb 13.

And now, Senator Clinton is back to the "dream ticket" idea... with her on top, of course (no pun intended!) Again, something I had written about earlier (along with many others, to be sure). I still think the person with most delegates should be the Presidential nominee...

[Updated 3/5 PM] Junior-Super Tuesday blues!

Senator Clinton did what she had to - win Ohio by a fair margin (~12%), and Texas by a smaller margin. She might have chipped away slightly at Senator Obama's delegate lead.

The Clinton campaign accused the Obama campaign of disenfranchising caucus-goers in Texas. However, I recall reading much before today that the caucus process would likely be chaotic - that the first person to show up at the caucus center could be the precinct chair, and effectively control the caucus. I will post a link when I find it. Detailed accusations are here.

Possible factors for these accusations (if they aren't true) - the Clinton campaign assumes Senator Obama will win the caucus portion of the Texas Two-Step, so these accusations degrade that win; and the Clinton campaign does not have enough ground support to man the >8000 caucus sites, particularly in Obama-strongholds (which is where the accusations are being made). In the latter case, if a Clinton volunteer doesn't show up in time, naturally an Obama-volunteer would end up being the precinct chair. As for the former, recall that Clinton surrogates sued to get rid of the "at-large" caucus sites in the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip during the Nevada caucuses, right after the biggest union there endorsed Senator Obama. Of course, given the apparently chaotic nature of the Texas caucuses, it is difficult to know if the latest accusations are true.

In other (non-)news, Senator Obama continues to fight ignorance about his religion and ancestry, in addition to racial prejudice. Writing from El Paso, TX, Meghan O'Rourke (a self-admitted Hillary-defender) reports that a couple of young women at a bar thought Senator Obama was a secret agent of Islam. Again, another Meghan O'Rourke report mentions a Republican who thinks that " "Osama—Osama Bin Laden" fellow had some good ideas: for example, about how CEOs shouldn't make in 10 minutes what workers make in a year..." [UPDATE/NEW LINK] Here is a Clinton supporter sporting a T-shirt saying "Osama for Obama." Finally, a report in The Nation quotes Clinton supporters in Ohio saying they wouldn't support "the nigger."

Earlier, I have written about how someone can be a Obama-supporter and still not be a MCP. Hopefully these individuals ignorant about, and/or prejudiced against, Senator Obama are a minor fraction of the Clinton-following. If, however, that is the support propelling Senator Clinton to the nomination... am I glad to have, thus far, lived (in the USA) in relatively-enlightened places like good university campuses and, of course, Boulder. Not to mention the Democratic Party's loss at denying a fine person like Senator Obama a shot at the Presidency just because he's a Black person with a weird name.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

[UPDATED 3/3 PM] More on Senator Obama and the Democratic primary campaign

Read a few good articles recently. Best of all, Jeffrey Rosen writes in an op-ed for the NYT that if elected, Senator Obama will be the first civil libertarian President of the US. One of the reasons I support Senator Obama is because of his efforts to reduce government power enabled by the PATRIOT Act. Senator Obama was a Constitutional Law teacher at the University of Chicago as well as a civil rights attorney, so excess Government power should be kept under check by a President Obama.
The Rosen article is also timely; recently, I saw a blog comment on that compared Senator Obama to - Adolf Hitler! "Good speaker, mobilized the nation... [all to wage war and cause the Holocaust]!" Or words to that effect. To start with, this comment came at the end of a long exchange between a Clinton supporter and some Obama backers (including yours truly). Proves Godwin's Law! But while the comparison may have been applicable on the surface, in reality that ignores the fact that Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and other great speakers have used their oratorical gifts for good, noble causes.

Another article, on Rasmussen, talks about how the conventional concept of red and blue states (or the United States of Canada and Jesus Land!) may not hold this November. I have written earlier about polls that show Senator Obama winning currently-red states like Colorado and Nevada. Other polls have also shown Senator Obama beating Senator McCain in Virginia and Iowa (which went to President Bush in 2004), while Senator McCain would win these two states against Senator Clinton. In the interests of fairness, a recent Rasmussen poll shows Senator Clinton beating Senator McCain in New Jersey, while Senators McCain and Obama are tied. However, in addition to the four states - Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Iowa - I believe the Democrats could bring very-red Kansas into play if Democratic Kansas Governor Kathleen Sibelius were to be the VP nominee. Governor Sibelius has backed Senator Obama; further, if Senator Clinton becomes the Presidential nominee, another woman on the ticket is highly unlikely (maybe sexist, but true). On balance, I think Senator Obama's candidacy would bring more states into the Democratic fold than he might lose.

Senator Clinton recently released a "red phone" ad (similar to an ad Walter Mondale released in 1984 against Gary Hart). Howard Kurtz at WaPo does a concise analysis of the ad and its history. Basically, the ad tries to make voters decide which President they would be safer under - some (including moi) would call that an ad that tries to gain votes through fear, though predictably the Clinton campaign does not. [UPDATE] Three things:
- Senator Clinton herself has no directly-relevant, personal experience in the "3 AM phone call" situations. This was palpably obvious when in a conference call with the Clinton campaign and other reporters, John Dickerson of Slate asked what similar situations Senator Clinton herself had been involved in. There was a long pause before Mark Penn, Senator Clinton's chief strategist, mentioned Senator Clinton's "work on the Armed Services Committee."
- Back in 2004, while campaigning for Senator John Kerry, President Clinton mentioned one of "Clinton's laws of politics" - that voters should vote for the candidate who makes one think and hope (yes, that word again!), not the candidate who tries to play on one's fears. Oh, the delicious irony!
- SlateV has a great "voter response" piece showing the reactions of Clinton-supporters, Obama-backers, and undecideds to the ad.

To end, here's a WaPo article that talks about the split in the female vote - poor women going for Senator Clinton, while their well-off sisters line with Senator Obama. And another WaPo article describing a citizen's movement in Delhi, India - started by the Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit to allow ordinary citizens to hold the administration responsible. Not quite about the Democratic primaries, but about democracy, and possibly another example of a politician trying to get people really involved in government.

On to March 4!